Friday, April 29, 2011

Smart Phones in School

Image Source: Johan Larsson
I am torn between engaging students with worthwhile apps and preventing students from becoming distracted by the toys at hand. On the one hand there are many apps that are not only appropriate for use in a mathematics classroom but genuinely create an opportunity to advance student learning.  Not only do these provide additional resources for learning but could be used in place of other expensive equipment. Why should we purchase graphing calculators for hundreds of dollars when most students can download a free graphing program on their smart phones. 

However, it is just a simple click away to turn a student's attention from honest classroom work to checking texts or playing games.  I spent the last week observing in a seventh grade math classroom where students were allowed to use the calculators on their phones or itouches when working problems.  Despite a firm warning that any use of the phones for other purposes would result in their not being allowed this privilege, I saw a number of students flipping between programs when the teacher wasn't within their immediate zone.

I want to encourage students to use the technology they have to make sense of what is happening in the classroom, however, I don't want the technology to become such a distraction that students are able to tune out during class.  Hmmm?


  1. We just had this discussion with a group of 16 teachers working with technology. We often hear the advantages of using tech, but there are down-sides and we don't hear about those very often. As a teacher, we need to look at both sides before we make the decision about which tool to use.